Just like watching Burnley

Last updated : 23 May 2008 By Simon Doyle
The badge is the same, the sponsor is the same, the whole kit is the same as Burnley FC - only the name is different.

The Newbridge Predators, one of the top teams in the Carnegie Women's Premier League, has forged links with the Clarets in the past three years, but not many know of the connection.

This week the Predz hosted Glentoran Belfast United - another Irish club with strong ties to Burnley - in a top of the table clash.

The Predators had been a team long before becoming amalgamated with Newbridge AFC, a youth football club which serves as a centre of excellence for Burnley in Northern Ireland.

Newbridge's Raymond Lavery was the Clarets scout that recognised the potential of Kyle Lafferty. The east Belfast club also sent former youth team goalkeeper Jonathan Sergeant to Burnley.

Since merging with Newbridge, the Predz have embraced the association with Burnley wholeheartedly.

The players wear the same official strip - goalkeeper Leanne Jamison even choosing to wear tracksuit bottoms.

Substitutes and coaching staff run up and down the sidelines kitted out in official Burnley FC training wear.

Some of the 30 or so fans in the small stand at Ashfield during the derby match with Glentoran also donned shirts with Holland's emblazoned across the chest - a brand of pie not even available in the north.

Entering the game, both teams had 100 per cent records having each won their first three matches.

Northern Ireland international midfielder Demi Vance gave the Predz the perfect start by heading the home team in front after just two minutes following some good build-up play on the right wing.

With the game still not five minutes old, lively striker Alex Ogle had a chance to increase the lead when put through one on one with the Glentoran keeper, but her lob went over. Moments later she shot narrowly wide after again outrunning the defence.

It was a former Predators star - Laura `Shaka' Hislop - that scored Glentoran's deserved equaliser when minutes before half time the skilful winger latched onto a hopeful cross.

The second half was no more than a minute old when Hislop - a Republic of Ireland international who also played league football in the US - scored her second goal to give the away side the lead.

But just 10 minutes later the score was level again after a stunning strike by Newbridge captain Ashleigh McKee.

Play flowed from end to end and Hislop continued to cause her former team problems. But it was Glentoran captain Kelly Bailie who finished the scoring, curling in a free kick 15 minutes from time.

It was just like watching Burnley - sort of.